mercredi 16 août 2017

Is possible that Magician guesses zodiac birth sign ?

(A stranger once guessed birth signs of people at dinner party including me.)

Magician guesses zodiac birth sign?

Google that, or go to FB video link below which supposedly shows a guy on street successfully guessing strangers signs.

Dont ask me.

The quote at bottom is from themagiccafe com/forums. It came up searching Magician guesses zodiac birth sign



I have heard about this before, and it makes you wonder. If your boss used the method he told you, the bone structure and such, it's strange that he was right so often. I can't believe someone can see a difference in people like that. Michio Kushi claimed in his book "Your face never lies" that some decades ago it was possible to see in the shape of the head if someone was born in the spring, summer, autumn or winter. It was because the different foods available in different times of the year affect the body differently. He claimed it's harder nowadays, because we have so much imported food, that we can eat summer food in the winter etc.

It would really be interesting if there was something to this...
.Dont ask me.

(so of course you will)


via International Skeptics Forum

Irony Overload: Why does have a religion section?

Hello, I am of course, atheistic.

Beyond atheism though, based on scientific evidence, I had come to possess a state of mind that rejects not merely religious belief, but the very concept of belief. (See my invention, 'non-beliefism')

Anyway, why is there a religion section on

via International Skeptics Forum

mardi 15 août 2017

Will robots steal our jobs?

UK Economic Outlook March, 2017

Our analysis suggests that up to 30% of UK jobs could potentially be at high risk of automation by the early 2030s, lower than the US (38%) or Germany (35%), but higher than Japan (21%).

In this article we present the findings from our own analysis of this topic, which builds on the research of both Frey and Osborne (hereafter ‘FO’) and Arntz, Gregory and Zierahn (hereafter ‘AGZ’).

PwC - 38% loss in US
FO - 47% loss in US
AGZ - 9% loss in US

This seems to be the justification:

However, over the past few years, fears of technology-driven job losses have re-emerged with advances in ‘smart automation’ – the combination of AI, robotics and other digital technologies that is already producing innovations like driverless cars and trucks, intelligent virtual assistants like Siri, Alexa and Cortana, and Japanese healthcare robots. While traditional machines, including fixed location industrial robots, replaced our muscles (and those of other animals like horses and oxen), these new smart machines have the potential to replace our minds and to move around freely in the world driven by a combination of advanced sensors, GPS tracking systems and deep learning, if not now then probably within the next decade or two.

I know what my opinion is of this article. I'm curious what the consensus and reasoning is on this forum.

via International Skeptics Forum

Cymbal bending ín slow-mo - Explanation?

Can someone explain how the cymbal is capable of bending in such a way?
Or is it just a visual effect?

I am not a drummer, but I have played in a band and know that cymbals are quite solid and you can not just kink or bend the edge with your bare hands in a sharp way like the deflection shown in the video.

The wavy/vibrating appearance after getting hit by the stick is comprehensible. But the initial hard kink-like deflection when the stick hits the edge, is hard to grasp.


Attached Images
File Type: jpg cymbal_.jpg (23.0 KB)

via International Skeptics Forum

DOJ wants protesters' names

This does relate to the Trump administration but I think it warrants a separate thread.

I'm frankly shocked at this story - to the stage where I query whether it is true.


A US service provider is fighting government demands for it to hand over details of millions of activists.

The Department of Justice (DoJ) wants all visitors' IP addresses - some 1.3 million - to a website that helped organise a protest on the day of President Trump's inauguration.
It seems that any resistance to the Trump Administration will bring you to the attention to TPTB.

via International Skeptics Forum

Those classy race card nazis strike again

Our society's brilliant new pretzel logic: it's OK (in fact wonderful!) to break the law and destroy property if it offends you :thumbsup: Destroy property? Block traffic? No big, no arrests. Hurray for self-righteousness!

But as glaringly asinine as these losers are, really in the end it's not their fault. Far worse is the silent majority who stand by and do nothing, which only serves to embolden the idiots. None of this surprises me in the tiniest, and it will only get worse.

via International Skeptics Forum

Quickie: Wat does 'pre-war' mean to Americans?

I'm reading Karin Slaugter's Good Daughter, and one of the charachters has a condo in a pre-war building in Chelsea, Manhattan.

And even though it's totally unimportant to the plot, now I'm wondering which war that refers to.

via International Skeptics Forum

lundi 14 août 2017

The “They’re out to get me" conspiracy.

The “They’re out to get me. That’s why I’m so bad” conspiracy.

In responding to a twitter comment condemning the victimhood claimed by white supremacists and neo-Nazis Robert Menard responds on Facebook by saying:


For shame. Hate is hate. What you are witnessing is the tribalization of individualist white men. It is so incredibly phenomenally and historically dangerous. When individualists become tribalized, all others suffer. They will always form the strongest and most violent tribe. Give them the world herein described, and they will absolutely destroy it and take you with it. The alt-left/feminist/progressive tribes will not survive. Did you want polarization and social breakdown? Cause diatribes like this are how you get it. The mere hint of it is already fanning the flames and has resulted in deaths. You call for more of the same to teach white men a lesson?? WTH is wrong with some people? The answer is not more division, more hostility, and more vitriol. It is not more labels blindly applied. It is not loving oppression. You do not fix injustice by calling for more, but this time directing it to a group of which you are not a part and which you blame for all of the societies ills.

When women tribalize you get marches for the vote, or protests for reproductive rights, and bake sales. When black people tribalize you get gangs and marches and riots. All tribalization threatens violence against others outside of the tribe. The word diatribe even has the word tribe in it. However, when white men with strong individualistic traits tribalize, ESPECIALLY WHEN THEY FEEL FORCED OR COMPELLED TO DO SO, you get demagoguery, world wars, and massive devastation. You end up with cemeteries chock full of the dead. Tribalized individualistic white men who believe they are standing for their right to be individuals have a capacity for violence and ability to justify it you simply cannot comprehend. Think Hiroshima.

Alt-left tribal vitriol as found above is causing the tribalization of the white male. It is causing many who would normally be found in the center and who prefer being an individual over being a tribal member to lean to the right, and tribalize for safety.

"I would so love to see these people get all the oppression they insist they receive, just for a year. Just to see."
No, no you wouldn't. The author is assuming they would respond in a manner similar to how the author and his tribe would respond, with marches and protests and whining. But they wouldn't. Only the hateful and ignorant 'would love to see people oppressed'. The incredibly stupid would love to see white individualistic men oppressed, for they are ignorant of the inevitable tribalistic horrendously violent backlash.
Read it carefully, folks.

Menard is saying white supremacists and neo-Nazis are “individualists” who when called out for their hate speech and hate crimes are being oppressed.

A careful reading of Menard’s screed reveals a nod to white supremacy given when he declares that bigoted white men will respond to intense criticism by destroying all the other tribes, especially the feminists, gap toothed Bobby's nemeses.

In a painfully transparent act of projection Bobby hangs the same phony victimhood on white supremacists and neo-Nazis that he hangs on himself and the remaining freemen. Menard lives with the delusion that he and his freemen buddies are oppressed by things like driver’s licenses, stop signs, payroll taxes, I.D. cards and child protective services.

The plain fact is white supremacists and neo-Nazis have marginalized themselves the same way Menard and his freemen crew have made themselves into powerless keyboard warriors. White supremacists, neo-Nazis and freemen don’t need critics to make them into powerless tribes. They’ve done it to themselves!

This sad little show wouldn’t be so predicable if Menard and his looney lieutenant, Patrick had not made the World Freeman Society into a haven for Nazi apologyism and holocaust denial.

via International Skeptics Forum

Circle Fully Turned: Fanny Hill Banned

I just love the irony in this one - it took over 200 years to enable Poms to be able to print & buy Fanny Hill, but only 53 to get to a time when it's removed from a university because it might offend someone.

If a book is good enough to survive hundreds of years, it's probably good enough to accept that if Snowflake gets upset by it, bring a hanky. Huck Finn, Fanny Hill... what next?

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Interactive telescope viewing

Saw this while reading an article at

Slooh allows Members to remotely control professional-grade telescopes in both the Canary Islands and Chile. It's easy to take deep space photos and share them with others!

via International Skeptics Forum

Prediction for the coming Eclipse:


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Lauren Stratford's niece believes her, claims was also abused by her "satanic" parent

I found this amusing bit awhile ago so apperently Gregory Reid one of the 10 people on earth who still believes in Lauren Stratford's story had mentioned at her funeral her niece Tristie believes her story.

This appeared on wikipedia chat a few years back

someone claiming to be Tristie makes a comment about Stratford. Is it possible she is suffering from the same mental issues as her aunt? (assuming that really IS her)

This just seems to be an interesting reliec of a more bizzare time

via International Skeptics Forum

dimanche 13 août 2017

Don't make a nazi salute in Germany

A US tourist has been punched by a by-passer in Dresden while doing a nazi salute:

Frankly speaking, even if I do not condone the punch I wonder what the other idiot was expecting: doing a nazi salute is not really welcome by the Germans anymore and this is the kind of reaction that one can foresee...

via International Skeptics Forum

Don't make a nazi salute in Germany

A US tourist has been punched by a by-passer in Dresden while doing a nazi salute:

Frankly speaking, even if I do not condone the punch I wonder what the other idiot was expecting: doing a nazi salute is not really welcome by the Germans anymore and this is the kind of reaction that one can foresee...

Nowadays a nazi salute is much more acceptable in the USA than in Germany. He should have stayed at home for doing that...

via International Skeptics Forum

The lost community and visas

I'm sure this is a question that has never been asked and never will again but this being Jref and all I thought I'd give it a go.

When hemingway, Fitzgerald, stein and that mob came over to live in Paris in the 20s, originally as struggling writers and critics, what was the visa arrangement? How were they allowed to live so long in the country without getting booted out?

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

via International Skeptics Forum

Won't somebody think of the... shoes?!

BBC News: Clarks in sexism row over Dolly Babe girls' shoe

"Clarks has been accused of "everyday sexism" for a calling a girls' school shoe "Dolly Babe", while the boys' equivalent is called "Leader".

The girls' shoes carry a heart-patterned insole, while the boys' insoles are decorated with footballs.

The shoe manufacturer has removed the Dolly Babe from its website following "customer feedback".

Clarks added: "We are working hard to ensure our ranges reflect our gender-neutral ethos."

However, the girls' shoe is still available online from retailers including Amazon and John Lewis and the Leader remains on sale."

via International Skeptics Forum

Universe described only with words

This article helped me. I would be interested in other opinions.

It starts,



This is a non-mathematical proposal introducing a cosmological model that is cyclic, deterministic and infinity-free. For the purpose of achieving this objective a number of new concepts are introduced. The framework of this proposal is structured over a number of assumptions, leading to various considerations of cosmological concerns. Furthermore, verification methods are suggested of both, observational and mathematical nature.

via International Skeptics Forum

120 V or 240 V Mains - which voltage is better?

Just something I have been wondering about recently.

Most appliances can just as easily be designed for 120V mains as 240V mains so it is six of one and half of the other. More heavy duty appliances will require a higher voltage and sometimes, only three-phase will do (for example, I used to have a three phase motor to pump bore water).

Most places in the world have a 240V mains. The local power lines carry that voltage on 3 lines (plus one for neutral) and it is only necessary to tap into the line to supply the house with either single phase or three phase electricity.

America, Canada, Japan and a few other countries use a 120V mains. There the setup seems a little more complicated. As I understand it, the local power lines carry 7,200V and pole top (or underground) transformers convert it to a "center tapped" 240V supply ( Each transformer supplies a single house with two phase 120V electricity (although residential complexes may share a transformer). Heavy duty appliances like washing machines can easily be accommodated with 240V but if a household needs a three phase supply then I guess they need an extra pole top transformer.

About the only advantage I can see of a 120V system is that local power lines can be thinner since they carry less current. I know an electrician who has worked in both Australia and the USA. He describes US household wiring as a "mess" and much prefers Australia's 240V system.

I was wondering if anybody involved in power distribution would like to weigh in.

via International Skeptics Forum

samedi 12 août 2017

Dueling protests spark stare of emergency in Virginia.

Charlottesville: state of emergency declared amid violence before far-right rally

ETA: I hate you, autocorrect... (had to change hate from gate 2x as well)

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Help please - Internet access without a computer

Long story short

Have internet configured and fine working with laptop via ethernet.

Use it to hotspot to my phone for internet on my phone

Have modem. A router lying around and the phone (android)

Losing the laptop

Basically just need to know how to configure the modem and router and network etc to still have wi/fi, as my phone obviously doesn't have an ethernet plug or any app to configure the network (enter the IPs etc)

Does anyone know if this is possible? Or do I always need some sort of pc/laptop/tablet acting as the uber controller?

Any help would be appreciated

via International Skeptics Forum

"Alt-right" ship stranded in Med

An "alt-right" anti-immigrant ship called the "C-Star" suffered an equipment failure and lost propulsion, and had to be rescued by a refugee-response ship.

The C-Star is owned by Defend Europe, which is like a kind of neo-Nazi Sea Shepherds except that instead of interfering with Japanese ships' attempts to hunt whales, it interferes with rescue and recovery efforts by ships that patrol common migrant routes looking for refugee vessels in distress. Ships such as the one that has now been dispatched to rescue it.

via International Skeptics Forum

vendredi 11 août 2017

An Objection to an Objection | Claim #1: Child Reincarnation Stories

In this thread, I was hoping that I could get a chain of objections going, the purpose of which is to not settle on some single objection we have to a claim and leave it at that, but to dig deeper and see where it leads us. So I will make an objection to an objection in this post and in the next post someone will object to my objection and in the post after that someone will object to their objection until we've reached a point where you can't make any more objection. I thought we would do this with child reincarnation stories. If you don't know what that is, it's when a child claims to remember a past life and the parents or a researcher or researchers are able to verify the details about the past life (google if you wish). I don't want to focus on Ian Stevenson but just what the case is by itself.

I'll begin:

Claim: Reincarnation is real.

Evidence: Children's past life memories are verified.

Objection: Cryptomnesia: Children get "past life memories" from various sources in their life such as a television, or a book and forget where they got it from and mistake it for a past life memory.

Objection to objection: There are cases where a child remembers being someone so obscure that there is practically no way to come across information about them other than deliberately searching for it.

After this someone would object to that last objection and then the chain starts.

via International Skeptics Forum

The 2017 anniversary of 9/11 - not happening in Trutherland

It's only a month till the next anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy rolls in. Of course we expect the millions that have woken up since last year to join the millions already awake in 2016 to join all the rallies, sit-ins, conferences, marches, prayers etc. that demand a new investigation, right?

Perhaps they kicked me off their mailing list, but I have not received a newsletter from AE911Truth since June.
Nor can I find any thrilling events organized by Gage and his minions on their webpage (last news entry: June also)
Nothing on Facebook.

I have not seen any event scheduled for September 11 on 911Blogger

And even the 911TAP event calendar is empty, except for a monthly conference call:

What a mighty Movement this is! :rolleyes:

via International Skeptics Forum

The National Security Council was totally nuts

How crazy was Michael Flynn? To get an idea of where the National Security Council might have gone with him at the helm check out the mess that McMaster had to deal with when he arrived. This was a memo that was written by old Flynn staffers. Foreign Policy got a hold of it and I'll share with you the best bits.


BACKGROUND.The Trump administration is suffering under withering information campaigns designed to first undermine, then de legitimize and ultimately remove the President. Possibly confusing these attacks with an elevated interplay of otherwise normal D.C. partisan infighting and adversarial media relations, the White House response to these campaigns reflects a political advocacy mindset that it is intensely reactive, severely under-inclusive and dangerously inadequate to the threat. If action is not taken to re-scope and respond to these hostile campaigns very soon, the administration risks implosion and subsequent early departure from the White House.
Remember this is from the NSC! Did you forget that? Remembering that is important to understand how batcrap nuts this is.


Culturally conditioned to limit responses to such attacks as yet another round in the on-going drone from diversity and multicultural malcontents, these broadsides are discounted as political correctness run amuck. However, political correctness is a weapon against reason and critical thinking. This weapon functions as the enforcement mechanism of diversity narratives that seek to implement cultural Marxism.
Did you get that? Diversity is a path to cultural Marxism. Can't have diversity. Gotta have a pure nation of white Christians. Anything else is just Cultural Marxism.


Academia has served as a principle counter-state node for some time and remains a key conduit for creating future adherents to cultural Marxist narratives and their derivative worldview. The Deep State - The successful outcome of cultural Marxism is a bureaucratic state beholden to no one, certainly not the American people . With no rule of law considerations outside those that further deep state power, the deep state truly becomes, as Hegel advocated, god bestriding the earth. Global Corporatists & Bankers - Exploitation of populations, unfettered by national protections and notions of personal morality and piety. Democratic Leadership - The democratic leadership has been a counter-state enabler that executes, sustains, and protects cultural Marxist programs of action and facilitates the relentless expansion of the deep state.
Academia, Deep State and Global Bankers... what the? Did Alex Jones co-author this?

Political Warfare Attacks -A Primer. As used here, "political warfare" does not concern activities associated with the American political process but rather exclusively refers to political warfare as understood by the Maoist Insurgency model. Political warfare is one of the five components of a Maoist insurgency. Maoist methodologies employ synchronized violent and non-violent actions that focus on mobilization of individuals and groups to action. This approach envisions the direct use of non-violent operational arts and tactics as elements of combat power. In Maoist insurgencies, the formation of a counter-state is essential to seizing state power. Functioning as a hostile competing state acting within an existing state, it has an alternate infrastructure. Political warfare operates as one of the activities of the "counter-state" and is primarily focused on the resourcing and mobilization of the counter state or the exhaustion and demobilization of the targeted political movement. Political warfare methods can be implemented at strategic, operational, or tactical levels of operation.
Maoist Insurgency? :confused: Now we are talking about a Maoist Insurgency?

Politics is involved in...just about everything in a democratic society but they decide that they want to link it to a Maoist Insurgency? Because a Maoist insurgency also involves politics?

Okay, then we get to this little bit where we learn tolerance is intolerance because it means inhibiting the old institutions that allowed intolerance. It just gets crazier and crazier.


That post-modern (diversity/multiculturalism) narratives seeks to implement cultural Marxist objectives can be demonstrated by reference to founding Frankfurt School theorist Herbert Marcuse's repurposing of the term tolerance. In a 1965 ~ Marcuse defined tolerance as intolerance; said it can be implemented through undemocratic means to stop chauvinism (xenophobia), racism, discrimination; and should be extended to the left while denied to the right: "The realization of the objective of tolerance would call for intolerance toward prevailing policies, attitudes, opinions, and the extension of tolerance to policies, attitudes, and opinions which are outlawed or suppressed." "Surely, no government can be expected to foster its own subversion, but in a democracy such a right is vested in the people (i.e. in the majority of the people). This means that the ways should not be blocked on which a subversive majority could develop, and if they are blocked by organized repression and indoctrination, their reopening may require apparently undemocratic means. They would include the withdrawal of toleration of speech and assembly from groups and movements which promote aggressive policies, armament, chauvinism, discrimination on the grounds of race and religion, or which oppose the extension of public services, social security, medical care, etc."
Uh, the highlighted bit. About that...:eye-poppi


The Meta Narrative. Meta narratives seeks to delegitimize President Trump, his administration, and the vision of America he projected as a candidate. With cultural Marxist memes serving as the backdrop, President Trump is to be relentlessly characterized as unfit through the use of supporting narratives acting to move unwitting populations to belief in the meta narrative. Hence: "President Trump is illegitimate" "President Trump is corrupt" "President Trump is dishonest"

"Obama was born in Kenya."
"Obama is a secret Muslim."
"Obama is a secret Islamist."
"Obama is a secret Communist."

I guess they can dish it but can't take it. Typical bully behavior.


CONCLUSION. The recent turn of events give rise to the observation that the defense of President Trump is the defense of America. In the same way President Lincoln was surrounded by political opposition both inside and outside of his wire, in both overt and covert forms, so too is President Trump. Had Lincoln failed, so too would have the Republic. The administration has been maneuvered into a constant backpedal by relentless political warfare attacks structured to force him to assume a reactive posture that assures inadequate responses. The president can either drive or be driven by events; it's time for him to drive them.
What!?! "The defense of President Trump is the defense of America"? From people saying stuff he doesn't like?

I must reiterate this was from the NSC. The people charged with the military strategy of the USA are writing a memo about how Trump has people saying things about him.

What are we to make of this? What are we to infer when they end with the vague notion of "drive them"? Is this just euphemistic speech of the kind of "deportation" and "resettlement" by the Nazis?

Keep in mind the most prominent quote in the memo was from someone advocating for suspending democracy to make sure things don't change. I think from that we can infer that this was essentially the NSC laying the groundwork to take military action against Trump critics.

via International Skeptics Forum

LibreOffice, is it legit?

I just called, after great difficulty, a live person, about my Microsoft office product, who then told me, in a pseudo robotic monotone voice, that since I don't have name of the original email address, I cannot reinstall my office despite having the key. I then told them off and installed something called Libreoffice. Looks legit. anybody have any advice. If it sounds good, I will use it to update my resume and send them the 15 bucks.



via International Skeptics Forum

The Creativity of Mechanisms of Evolution

It is said that the mechanisms of evolution (natural selection, sexual selection, etc.) only enhance or diminish traits (populations with long necks get longer necks, populations with little arms get smaller arms).

If the mechanisms of evolution only enhance or diminish traits and not create, then to explain eyes that would mean that there would have to have been a creature with some kind of proto eye already in existence to enhance, but it seems unlikely that just a mutation would by chance produce an eye. How do you reconcile the existence of the eye and the fact that the mechanisms of evolution only enhance or diminish traits?

via International Skeptics Forum

Purpose of Life

I like to subject my views to skepticism, so I'm still working out the kinks of this.

In the beginning there was infinite potential. This infinite potential was God. God became aware of itself but could not experience itself because it was infinite and things can only exist in a finite form (after all, everything around you is finite), so God actualized it’s potential and became finite in the form of the universe, meaning everything and everyone is God (still working out the contradiction of how God can be aware of itself yet only experience itself when finite). So, God created the universe to experience itself, but it did not just want to experience itself as a tree or a dog or a human, it wanted to experience it’s essence, so the souls that inhabit various life-forms, through the process of reincarnation starting from the lowest forms of life and going toward the highest gradually evolves until it becomes God-like, perfect. Once perfect, this is God experiencing itself, and after a soul reaches perfection and thus no longer has to reincarnate, it merges with God, which would be the greatest bliss possible. And after all souls merge back with God, the process starts over again but this time with the lessons learned from the previous universe incorporated into the new universe. So the purpose of man, or the soul of man, is to become perfect, the purpose of man in a particular life is to grow, which you do through the experiences of life and your use of free will. You supposedly choose your parents and family to meet your particular growth needs and also program certain life experiences into your incarnation.

via International Skeptics Forum


Inspired by some of the comments in The Big Dog's thread about atheists thinking other atheists immoral, and the fear of punishment keeping theists in line, I wonder about our apparent need to inflict punishment.

Is this a uniquely human need, (do other animals have it?), and is it common in all our cultures? Is it driven by religion to some extent and stronger in cultures that believe in a punishing god?

Not to get confused here we must think about the desire to punish, as a separate issue from the need to have deterrents to prevent crime.

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So how much apprehension do you folks have about the coming total eclipse and the fact that it's passing right over the yellowstone caldera right when it's becoming more active.
It seems that the combo of the moon and sun gravitational effects could have a deforming effect on the liquid magma.
Stock up on bottled water and ammo, smoke a joint and kiss our butt goodbye.

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Findhorn Essences

Words fail me. From the catalogue of products offered by Findhorn Floral Essences, an affiliate of the Findhorn spiritual community.

via International Skeptics Forum

Suppose the U.S. had never had slavery?

HBO is working on a series based on the premise that the Confederacy won the Civil War.

Approached from the other direction, assume that the U.S. had never instituted slavery. Suppose that the farm and other work performed by slaves was done by voluntary immigrants paid fair wages, who were free to return to their home countries if they wished, but who could never become citizens, nor could their descendants born here. What would have been the effect on the economy and the society?


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Was Stalin really that bad

To avoid derailing discussion about North Korea....

I'm with Craig B on this one


Originally Posted by Craig B (Post 11952873)
It is beyond all doubt that millions of people died of hunger and disease in Ukraine alone (and other huge numbers elsewhere in the USSR) in the famine that followed the collectivisation of Agriculture by Stalin in and after 1929. The questions at issue are

How many millions?

Was there any specific use of famine to destroy Ukrainians as an ethnic group, or did the victims die because they were peasants in a grain exporting region, and so suffered the results of collectivisation in their most extreme form?

Only in the first case would the crime (because it was a crime) have been genocide as such. I think it probably wasn't. It was a dispossession of a peasant class, comparable with the Enclosures in England, the Highland Clearences in Scotland, and the Famine-Emigration in Ireland; however it was not the same sort of crime as the Holocaust.

But it was not a Nazi propagandist invention, alas. It was real.

via International Skeptics Forum

Los Angeles has 144% registered voters !


In the letter, Judicial Watch noted that public records obtained on the Election Assistance Commission’s 2016 Election Administration Voting Survey and through verbal accounts from various county agencies show 11 California counties have more registered voters than voting-age citizens: Imperial (102%), Lassen (102%), Los Angeles (112%), Monterey (104%), San Diego (138%), San Francisco (114%), San Mateo (111%), Santa Cruz (109%), Solano (111%), Stanislaus (102%), and Yolo (110%).

In the letter, Judicial Watch noted that Los Angeles County officials “informed us that the total number of registered voters now stands at a number that is a whopping 144% of the total number of resident citizens of voting age.”

Under Section 8 of the NVRA, states are required to make a reasonable effort to remove the names of ineligible voters from official lists due to “the death of the registrant” or “a change in the residence of the registrant,” and requires states to ensure noncitizens are not registered to vote.

There is “strong circumstantial evidence that California municipalities are not conducting reasonable voter registration list maintenance as mandated under the NVRA,” Judicial Watch wrote in the notice letter sent to California Secretary of State Alex Padilla.

Judicial Watch referred California officials to a settlement agreement it reached with the State of Ohio in which Ohio agreed to update and maintain its voter registration lists and to keep a current voter registration list online and available for public access.
144% has to be worse than Chicago even.

Maybe Trump has a point.

via International Skeptics Forum

jeudi 10 août 2017

Guess who is triggered by the Statue of Liberty?

Breitbart is!

Yeah Vogue released their anniversary issue and decided to devote it to Freedom and Liberty. They also made the seemingly non-controversial decision to put Jennifer Lawrence on the cover because fashion mags like beautiful women I'm told. Oh and in the background there is the Statue of Liberty.

The text on the cover, in its entirety (minus the credits), reads:
American Beauty
Jennifer Lawrence on love, liberty, and the freedom to be herself.

125th Anniversary Edition.
So...something there prompted Breitbart writer John Carney to take to Twitter and opine:
We are going to create a full #MAGA shadow cultural industry because the Opposition Media can't even do fashion without attacking us!
It was the Oxford comma, wasn't it?

Oh no, it apparently was the inclusion of the statue of liberty and Carney thinks using it is an attack because right now the crazy idea that the statue advocates letting in dirty immigrants is being spread around in the media. That idea isn't crazy at all and certainly isn't a sign that someone has a huge persecution complex or anything.

Nope, just that evil fashion Opposition Media trying to sabotage #MAGA. Next thing you know they'll put American models out of work by importing ones from Slovenia!

I guess it is now up to the Alt-Right to create their own shadow fashion industry. I'm sure that wouldn't be hilarious. Will they bring back shoulder pads on female power suits? Will their spring sundresses be all camouflage? What about infinity scarfs? WHAT ABOUT INFINITY SCARFS!?!

via International Skeptics Forum

What is the value of the paranormal industry?

What is the commercial value of activities that fall under "paranormal"?

Occult, psychics, UFOs, cryptids, astrology, etc

Publishing, movies, TV programming, conventions, objects/artifacts, readings, dowsings, equipment. real estate, schools/academies, subscriptions, donations, fees, tithing


(Note that I exclude conventional "religious" examples of the same things...though that distinction is debatable. ;))

I know that there are sources for this sort of information but I think many cost a bit to access or require considerable analysis that I'm not presently capable of. Some countries probably collect this data routinely but it may be classified and reported in various ways.

via International Skeptics Forum

Passwords: Before I write my article about this, can someone explain its "logic"?

So, basically, I am unable to access my existing account at, nor to create a new account, due to its insufferable, extreme list of requirements for password creation:


Minimum password length must be 8 characters and consist of at least 2 alpha characters, 1 number and 1 special character.
A password must have no consecutive repeated characters.
A password must not include your user name or any part thereof.
A password must not include the names of a spouse, children, pets or one's own name.
A password must not include any regional sports teams or players.
A password must not include any office symbols.
A password must not include your social security number or any subset of your social security number that is more than a single number.
A password must not include words that can be found in any dictionary, whether English or any language.
A password must not be any of the 11 most recently used passwords for the account.
Some of these are plain laughable and feel like the site creator is literally mocking us: "A password must not include any regional sports teams or players" Could this be more random? First of all, why sports teams/ players? Why are those a no-no, but not Martial Arts fighters or movie directors? Is the person who created the site someone who hates sports? Or is there an actual logic behind this stupid requirement?

Some are, simply absurd: "A password must not include your social security number or any subset of your social security number that is more than a single number." First of all: If I'm a completely new user who's opening their account for the first time, then that means I haven't even entered such information as my Social Security Number. How in the Blue Hell then do you even know if any of the numbers I'm entering in my new password are found in my Social Security Number??

Finally, they completely destroy any possibility for you to create a password that you would remember and that would make sense to you by dictating that "A password must not include words that can be found in any dictionary, whether English or any language." This means, you are left with nothing but strings of random letters, meaning, this will be something you will need to write down in a piece of paper and save it so you can remember it.

But aside from the fact that this one site is being a real bitch with the whole password creation, most of the sites where you create accounts have a list of requirements for your password.

But why???

The way I see it: it's my account, my responsibility. If I decide to create a password that's just "1234", and that means it has an extreme risk of being deciphered by others, that's MY PROBLEM. Some services such as gmail allow (at least for now) for you to create whatever the hell you wanna create as a password, so we know this is not universal to all sites/services.

Second of all, as I mentioned earlier, by introducing such a large list of demands, you make it so that I have to create a password that I wouldn't remember, because it ends up being something crafted to the site's individual desires. So I have to write it down somewhere, because I just won't remember. Especially considering each site has their unique list of requirements. That means that, at the end of the day, I'm still at the risk of having someone find that list and have access to all of my passwords. So, the rationale that this makes your password more secure, isn't precisely true.

Since recently I was looking for ideas to write a new article on my blog, it goes without saying that this subject has infuriated me so much, and for such a long time, that I'm gonna make this my new subject. However, before I start writing an article complaining about this, I would like to hear the opinions of some tech-savy people (preferably people who are code programmers, and who have hands-on experience with this stuff) to patiently explain me, in as concisely as possible, why this **** makes sense at all.

via International Skeptics Forum

Just how manipulated are we?

Of all the things to make me ask this question, it was a bag of ice. I have to buy ice from time to time b/c like an idiot I forget to refill my trays and run out. The last time I did so (just the other day), I realized that the size of the cubes had been increased in the commercial bag I had bought.

How is that manipulation? Consider: larger cubes means you use more ice/use by volume by default. Yet ice is sold in constant measurements by weight. So you run out again sooner than you would with smaller cubes that would let you reduce the amount per use.

And that's just one of the ways we are manipulated on a daily basis, whether it be by politicians or by businesses. Have we reached the point in society that anything is probably subject to this sort of tampering?

via International Skeptics Forum

Been to the moon?

Have you been to the moon?

If so, you'd not need to trust others reporting what becomes/became 'history'. Depending upon perspective, one person's 'history' can be like fake news to another. Losers vs victors writing it being a popular example.

Other than those who went to the moon, who has sufficient direct knowledge/experience to know they went to the moon? Rocket men and women, and other project staff would know.

But what of those further and furthest away from that perspective?

How far downstream in the information chain are those who must rely solely on trust in writers and reporters? Where in that chain does/must it become belief/faith? In terms of sophistication perhaps? Where are you on that info chain? How would others frame this question more simply?

via International Skeptics Forum

A solution to my sticky fingers problem

Food technology. Ice cream that does not melt.

via International Skeptics Forum

GOP agents conduct secretive search for Chris Steele

Gee, I wonder why...? I mean, it's all "nothingburger", right...? ;)

via International Skeptics Forum

FBI conducts raid to gather evidence against Trump

Didn't see this on the first two pages so I'll start a thread. The FBI raided Paul Manafortin pre-dawn raid for documents and other evidence concerning the investigation into the regime's Russian collusion.

Such a raid requires sufficient evidence to demonstrate probable cause, which puts an end to any possible claim that Trump/Russia is "nothingburger".

GO Mueller!

via International Skeptics Forum

*Scary* Poll shows more than half of GOP would suspend elections.

WaPo published a poll where a number of GOP and GOP-leaning voters and found that if Trump and GOP Congress called for it, they would support "suspending" elections until they were certain "non citizens" were excluded from voter rolls.

Frightening development from the party that has no problem rigging elections and allowing Russia to help them do it.

via International Skeptics Forum

Evil Google doesn't want you to know about Socialism

... or more precisely, Google doesn't want you to know what Socialists say about Socialism.

New Google algorithm restricts access to left-wing, progressive web sites


Originally Posted by World Socialist Web Site
In the three months since Internet monopoly Google announced plans to keep users from accessing “fake news,” the global traffic rankings of a broad range of left-wing, progressive, anti-war and democratic rights organizations have fallen significantly.
On April 25, 2017, Google announced that it had implemented changes to its search service to make it harder for users to access what it called “low-quality” information such as “conspiracy theories” and “fake news.”
The company said in a blog post that the central purpose of the change to its search algorithm was to give the search giant greater control in identifying content deemed objectionable by its guidelines. It declared that it had “improved our evaluation methods and made algorithmic updates” in order “to surface more authoritative content.”
Google continued, “Last month, we updated our Search Quality Rater Guidelines to provide more detailed examples of low-quality webpages for raters to appropriately flag.” These moderators are instructed to flag “upsetting user experiences,” including pages that present “conspiracy theories,” unless “the query clearly indicates the user is seeking an alternative viewpoint.”
Google does not explain precisely what it means by the term “conspiracy theory.” Using the broad and amorphous category of fake news, the aim of the change to Google’s search system is to restrict access to alternative web sites, whose coverage and interpretation of events conflict with those of such establishment media outlets as the New York Times and the Washington Post. [...]

The WSWS is far from the only site affected, but they seem to have done the most research on the machinations so far (during the last two weeks, for additional articles see website), and they are among the most severely censored:

Google’s new search protocol is restricting access to 13 leading socialist, progressive and anti-war web sites


Originally Posted by World Socialist Web Site
[...] The World Socialist Web Site has obtained statistical data from SEMrush estimating the decline of traffic generated by Google searches for 13 sites with substantial readerships. The results are as follows:

* fell by 67 percent
* fell by 63 percent
* fell by 62 percent
* fell by 47 percent
* fell by 47 percent
* fell by 42 percent
* fell by 37 percent
* fell by 36 percent
* fell by 36 percent
* fell by 30 percent
* fell by 25 percent
* fell by 21 percent
* fell by 19 percent

Of the 13 web sites on the list, the World Socialist Web Site has been the most heavily affected. Its traffic from Google searches has fallen by two thirds. [...]

The WSWS is the outlet of the Forth International, the world's leading Trotzkyite organization. But:

Does the WSWS write about Leon Trotsky? Not according to Google


Originally Posted by World Socialist Web Site
[...] In the month of July, the number of Google searches for “Leon Trotsky” return a grand total of... zero impressions for the WSWS, down from 5,893 in May.
In preparing this article, we searched Google for “Who is Leon Trotsky.” We conducted this experiment with Chrome, Google’s browser, using “incognito mode” to ensure that results were not affected by previous searches. The search term was used without quotation marks.
All manner of right-wing essays and articles come up. The first page includes an essay posted on (Russia Beyond the Headlines, put out by the Russian government), “Leon Trotsky: 6 facts about the disgraced Russian revolutionary.”
On page three, there is an entry from Edgar’s Mission Farm Sanctuary about Leon Trotsky… the piglet, an animal rescued by the farm in Australia in April 2014, who, we are informed, “has more spunk than most who are ten times his size.” There is also an article in Slate, published in 2007, warning readers, “Don’t idealize Leon Trotsky” (the revolutionary), and an entry in the right-wing Conservapedia.
Page four includes a Leon Trotsky flashcard from Quizlet, notes from, and a reactionary and ignorant entry from the satirical Uncyclopedia informing its readers that Trotsky’s greatest legacy is “his philosophy of permanent factionalism and split-hair revolutionary dialectics.”
Going deeper, on page six, we find pages that collect “Leon Trotsky GIFs” and an essay, “Frida’s Red Hot Lover” from an obscure site, Lisa’s History Room, that, according to Alexa, has global ranking of 1,078,957 (compared to the WSWS at 40,677). Also on page six is an essay on Trotsky and Orwell’s book Animal Farm, written by a high school student and published on
By page 10, we encounter a recipe for a cocktail called the “Leon Trotsky” and a page on on songs containing the term “Leon Trotsky.” On page 12, there is a review of historian Joshua Rubenstein’s biography of Trotsky by the reactionary historian Richard Pipes, published in Tablet in 2011 under the headline, “Trotsky the Jew,” which complains that Rubenstein “obscures the Russian revolutionary’s violent extremism.” There is also a document from the CIA’s website, “Leon Trotsky, Dupe of the NKVD.”
It is not until page 13 that there is any entry from the WSWS, the reposting of Trotsky’s essay, “Three Conceptions of the Russian Revolution.” Of course, by this point, most Google searchers, overloaded with rubbish, would have stopped scanning the results. [...]

And that's only the beginning:

Google blocked every one of the WSWS’s 45 top search terms


Originally Posted by World Socialist Web Site
An intensive review of Internet data has established that Google has severed links between the World Socialist Web Site and the 45 most popular search terms that previously directed readers to the WSWS. The physical censorship implemented by Google is so extensive that of the top 150 search terms that, as late as April 2017, connected the WSWS with readers, 145 no longer do so. [...]
The WSWS has analyzed tens of thousands of search terms, and identified those key phrases and words that had been most likely to place the WSWS on the first or second page of search results. The top 45 search terms previously included “socialism,” “Russian revolution,” “Flint Michigan,” “proletariat,” and “UAW [United Auto Workers].” The top 150 results included the terms “UAW contract,” “rendition” and “Bolshevik revolution.” All of these terms are now blocked. [...]
Terms relating directly to socialism are those that are most heavily manipulated. The terms “socialism vs. capitalism,” “socialist healthcare,” “social class struggle,” and “socialist party manifesto,” which all returned WSWS articles on the first page in the past, now do not return the WSWS in the top 100 results. The terms “socialism,” “socialist,” “socialist movement” and “class conflict,” in which the WSWS previously appeared within the first four pages, all no longer return WSWS articles. [...]

Says David North in the first article:


Originally Posted by World Socialist Web Site
David North, chairperson of the International Editorial Board of the WSWS, stated that Google is engaged in political censorship.
“The World Socialist Web Site has been in existence for nearly 20 years,” he said, “and it has developed a large international audience. During this past spring, the number of individual visits to the WSWS each month exceeded 900,000.
“While a significant percentage of our readers enter the WSWS directly, many web users access the site through search engines, of which Google is the most widely used. There is no innocent explanation for the extraordinarily sharp fall in readers, virtually overnight, coming from Google searches.
“Google’s claim that it is protecting readers from ‘fake news’ is a politically motivated lie. Google, a massive monopoly, with the closest ties to the state and intelligence agencies, is blocking access to the WSWS and other left and progressive web sites through a system of rigged searches.”
“The actions of Google constitute political censorship and are a blatant attack on free speech,” North stated. “At a time when public distrust of establishment media is widespread, this corporate giant is exploiting its monopolistic position to restrict public access to a broad spectrum of news and critical analysis.”

Says Julian Assange: Google Is Not What It Seems

via International Skeptics Forum

Do Liberals need better marketing science?

Liberals have a whole lot of truth and science on their side. And yet conservative messaging keeps things all muddled. While some of this can be attributed to the Conservative stranglehold on talk radio and the Sinclair Group owning all the local TV stations that are forced to air conservative propoganda I contend a bunch of it comes down to the fact that Liberals assume they don't need marketing because it is beneath them and are getting trounced.

Climate change: basic well understood physics and chemistry but Conservative marketing has people questioning if weather even exists.

Universal healthcare: Definitely provides better medicine at lower cost than America's insurance Hunger Games system. But Conservative marketing has people convinced that all the cancer drugs will be diverted to black people in Baltimore because of Affirmative Action.

Good public schools: Obviously a good national resource. But conservative marketing has people about to lynch teachers for being anti-American traitors.

I say we need to market the message better and stop relying on our being right to win the day.

via International Skeptics Forum

mercredi 9 août 2017

Who's going to start World War III?

Who's gonna get the blame/credit?

via International Skeptics Forum

Trying to find a sci-fi book I read as a kid

Unfortunately, I can't remember a great deal about it, so I'm hoping someone here is familiar enough with it to recognise it from very sparse information.

The premise, as I remember it, has a contemporary man (I'm thinking 80s, but maybe 70s) killed in some unique way and then being resurrected in the future in an also unique robot body that looks and feels like a human body, but has all the advantages (like strength) of a robot.

The only other things I can remember are that he pilots a spaceship at some point; that he has the companionship of a couple of women, and that he sleeps with both of them simultaneously; and that there's a scene where he realises that he can sit comfortably without the use of a chair by locking his legs in a sitting position.

That's all I can remember, which I know isn't a lot to go on at all. It's possible that the title has the word "sun" in it, and that maybe the plot revolves around him having to save the Earth from some sun-related disaster or something, but I say both of those things with a very low percentage estimate of certainty. I don't remember it being particularly good, but I do remember it being quite fun, and I think I'd enjoy revisiting it.

I am trying to think of another one, but I may have recalled it. There was a novel which felt "old-fashioned" to me in which the protagonist had to travel through lots of different worlds by stepping on numbered steps, as if disconnected stairs from a staircase. I think this is probably James Blish's The Jack Of Eagles. Does that sound right to anybody who knows that story well?

via International Skeptics Forum

Mozilla and fact-checker engine join fight on fake news

This is something we do here everyday.

via International Skeptics Forum

Baltimore Crime Issues

There's been a lot of reporting lately on Baltimore suffering record and rising murder rates along with very high rates of other serious crime. Looks like the last time they got a murder rate decrease was 2011. Massive surge in 2015. Anyone have a sense of what's going wrong? Not so much why Baltimore is worse than other cities, but why it's worse that it was just a few years ago?

via International Skeptics Forum

Odd coincidence

I live in Conyers and on Railroad street, there is a very old house. It is well over 100 years old having been built when cotton was king in the southeast. It is two stories high and has a history of being haunted.

I was having a drink with a Mexican friend and I told him about the house. I told him that I had been through every nook and cranny of the house and has seen nothing that remotely resembled a ghost.

He told me that a Mexican could find one because his people were more attuned to the supernatural than Anglos were.

The house was purchased fixed up beautifully and a Mexican American lawyer has moved his office to this now wonderfully restored house. He has offices upstairs and down.

I wonder if he ever saw a ghost? He had a Holloween party there last year.

I don't believe in ghosts for the record.

via International Skeptics Forum

mardi 8 août 2017

UFO Contactees: Whatever Happened To...?

There are so many loose threads, apparent dead ends in reconstructing the early history of the "Contactees".

Whatever happened to Charles and Lillian Laughead after the Dorothy Martin debacle, including whatever happened in the Andes?

Whatever happened to Bryant and Helen Reeves after their "Flying Saucer Pilgrimage"?

What *really* happened to George Hunt Williamson when he took on other identities, saw von Daniken steal his ideas and died penniless in a spare room supported by a more wealthy friend?

How did Williamson and Miller really meet? How many of these people connected through Meade Layne's spiritualist/Fortean groups and publications?

What role did the movements of William Pelley, Guy Ballard, Psychiana and the theosophists play in the development of the cultic milieu that birthed and sustained the early activities?

And so many questions! Am I in the right place or is there another, more appropriate or specialized UFO forum? :)

via International Skeptics Forum

Glen Campbell - No longer on the line

Passed away

Sad really

I saw a documentary about his battle with Alzheimer's.

Pretty difficult watch

Me no want to go that way

via International Skeptics Forum

The World Beyond Your Head

On page 13 of this book, Matthew Crawford, writer and motorcycle engineer calls for a "right to not be addressed". This struck your reviewer as such an astonishingly good idea (she cherishes her share of not being addressed), that it will probably never catch on. Crawford is, actually, complaining about the freedom that anonymous corporate forms enjoy to treat one's attention as something to be harvested if she hasn't the skill to direct it herself. But he is also likening silence (in a broader- than-audio sense) to clean air: a commons that authority should protect. Yet because it has to a large extent been given away free, or simply appropriated and monetised, one has to pay to get it back (such as for the ad-free app, or the quiet zone in the business class lounge). This isn't good ethics: attention is a finite resource that is very much our own. But we owe some of it to others, and the world, as well as not having firmly enough exercised our rightful claim on it.

That is, though, just the start of Crawford's book and not the main course, the sub-title "how to flourish in an age of distraction" doesn't really address what most of this is about, which is a somewhat polemical complaint that liberal purity (stemming from Enlightenment trappings of autonomy, rationality and individuality) has lowered public spiritedness and deadened the good life, while purporting to have enabled it by freeing us from repression. Such complaints are not new but Crawford's approach is novel. It's a great read.

Attention is the faculty that joins us to the world. That probably makes it quite valuable to most (not everyone: autism works the other way). But attention--in respect of the rational autonomous self--is apparently a source of un-freedom in Enlightenment philosophy and libertarian doctrine. Because these ideas centre around the (negative) pursuit of freedom from stuff. In the rational ideal then, attention should all be directed inwards. The source of self is: we think therefore we are. Nothing is added by looking outside. Or if it is, you are intellectually deficient. The author extends Kantian and Lockean strictures about the illegitimacy of authority (monarchy or state for Locke, teachers and parents also for Kant) to a conclusion that this requirement of rational autonomy must discard other people, and discard one's experience of the world. Thus, anything outside our mind plays a wholly adverse role in the effort to grasp reality and achieve intellectual independence.

Few readers would accept such a mindset as representing cultural convention, so Crawford's protests seem to be aimed off target. But the foregoing have nonetheless enabled a detachment from outside ourselves such that the pursuit of individual autonomy has gone astray. Perhaps we are supposed to be able--in a state of rational utopia--to judge everything for ourselves, but since we can't, and since taking heed from authority is not the hallmark of individuality, we instead copy the average of everyone else. Ironically the too-high demand of ideal individualism leads to paradoxical conformity and swapping out of a supposedly sovereign individual to what the author calls a statistical self--where the wisdom of the crowd is revered and a wiki mentality is supposedly the highest pinnacle of knowing.

But in the absence of someone forming a view of the world by directing where her attention goes within it, her critical response is left neutralised, to be grabbed by those whose interest it can serve instead. Public squares are filled with muzak nobody would choose and advertising nobody wants. Luxury cars are designed with so much tech to insulate drivers from what they are actually doing--controlling a high speed hunk of metal powered by lighting flammable liquid--that their value proposition is "blow jobs to the affluent". At an extreme of this, slot machine addicts gamble to extinction merely so they can stay in the zone where play begets comforting external response, and winning stops being the objective (and corporate interests handily see to it that this zone has max comfort)

But there are other ways to interact with the world. A pro hockey player only stands a chance of achievement if she treats her stick as though it is part of her body, rather than an object she can manipulate after making some calculations about how to. So does a motorcycle racer. And a student of Russian is submitting herself to conformity with something (the language) which was already there. More importantly these folks are discovering more reality as they go further outside themselves. What this means is that the limits of human agency are external to one's brain, and body, and refusal to countenance this "situated self" (which is no longer an autonomous self) will lead to falling short in most endeavours beyond tying shoelaces. The author researched what becomes a long penultimate chapter about some pipe organ makers in Pennsylvania, to breathe fine granularity into his thesis on the high value of pursuing narrowish skill. Generic smartness, of the kind that can supposedly be garnered by credentialling at an appropriately regarded business school, is phoney fictional currency, supposedly. As is Imanuel Kant's unencumbered self.

Rather, the pursuit of high skill in any field requires an acceptance that knowledge is communal, or social, and out there not in here, and existed before we did. But through what is initially the deep conformity of apprenticeship, it then becomes possible to understand individuality differently. By bumping up against things and people in cooperation and in conflict. And not by what appears to be a trending aversion to face-to-face contact, and today even voice-to-voice, as ever more engagement beyond one's mind becomes electronic media. Not that everyone should become an organ restorer, or a motorbike mechanic. But education (from educare; educo; to lead forth) is something Matthew Crawford would like to see restored to its rooted position of pulling our non-situated selves into a world where we can re-claim the real, hopefully playing music somebody actually selected in the gym (or nothing if nobody did)

via International Skeptics Forum

Mirror, Shoulder, Signal

This fairly short novel tells of a few days in the life of Sonja Hansen, who feels herself an oddball, an outsider from Jutland, now residing in Copenhagen. Forty and single, her attempts to learn to drive provide a prop for Sonja’s introspective flow of consciousness about her life, her past and where she is going. Whilst the story is told in the third person and the driving lessons narrative is linear, in conventional story-telling style, her thoughts and reminiscences are wonderfully non-linear – even circular – as she tries to ‘go back’ to a time she sat in the rye fields or watched whooper swans across the plains.

There is a melancholic ruefulness as Sonja ruminates about her difficult relationship with her sister, husband-and-two-children suburban Kate, and her other sister, Molly and childhood friend, Marie. There is, of course, Mum and Dad.

Copenhagen has been named as the world’s ‘happiest city’. In Nors’ novel, Sonja is far from happy, as her loud in-your-face driving instructor Jytte tramples over Sonja’s finely tuned sensibilities. It is a black comedy of the Erica Jong semi-feminist type, and indeed there is a passing reference to the fear of flying and Jodie Foster in ‘Contact’, a film I, too, love. It is about how Sonja disassociates from the reality of the horror of 'everyday life'.

There are the reflections of lost love, Paul, and future possibility, Folke, the driving school owner. Then there is the trendy conscious-raising Ellen, who believes in angels and new-age therapies.

Nors sketches her characters finely, her narrative is skilful and well-crafted. The seamlessness of Sonja’s interior world and the humdrum external world interweaves in a deceptively simple fashion.

The result is a wonderful tragicomedy. It recalled one’s own nerve-stricken driving lessons, later in life than normal. Although not a journal, nor in the first person, or even particularly self-deprecating, nonetheless it reminded me of a Danish Brigit Jones. The everyday anxieties we all feel are there, as life’s bigger picture revolves and evolves around us.

A classic line is:

“_Somewhere in the distance, a blackbird sings in a solitary tree. Sonja can see the slats of the bench and the way Copenhagen keeps going nonstop on the other side of the canal. _”

The narrative is poetic and beautiful. There are some truly magical moments in the novel, in particular, when Sonja recollects sitting in a childhood tree. This scene took my breath away. Nors recreates exactly the happy days of childhood when the world is perfect and all in it is well, even if it is momentary. The adult Sonja strives to capture her lost self, knowing all the while of its pervasive elusiveness and impossibility.

The world around her is chaotic, her compatriots baffling, as they wear personae adapted to the bustling city. Jytte is a caricature, yet she is real. We see Jytte-types everywhere we look. She is repulsive, she is a little bit ourselves. Ellen, too, is a toned down ‘Millie Tant’ wimmins libber, as the reader sniggers knowingly at her faux terminology. We all know such a character in search of herself. Sonja ponders on the nature of manliness.

I can see why this was short-listed for the Man Booker International Prize 2017 (however, won by another writer I have not yet read, David Grossman: 'A Horse walks into a Bar'). It is fully deserved, as Nors is undoubtedly a gifted writer. The novel held me from start to finish. It is existential. It delves deep into the psyche, yet its surface is calm. There are black thunderclouds on the horizon. It is compelling reading. Nors captures the transcendental nature of landscapes that strike a chord within, with the same flair as Jack Kerouac.

If you enjoy Scandinavian fiction, you might enjoy another shortlisted novel: The Unseen, by Norwegain writer, Roy Jacobsen. What I like about this genre is its plain simple writing without frills or filler. _Mirror, Shoulder, Signal_ fills the criteria perfectly.

via International Skeptics Forum

Rainbow Swastika T Shirt Pulled From Market

Amazed anybody thought this was a good idea;one comment was
"Millinials left to themselves do bad things".
Yes, I am fully aware that the Swastika has a totally different meaning in India but as far as the West goes it is a hopelessly corrupted symbol,thesei idiots should have known that. A really stupid idea that blew up in their face.

via International Skeptics Forum

Frank Greening's Latest dust study.

Just posting this here so that people interested can Download Franks Latest study.

Comments welcome, from those who know what this means.

via International Skeptics Forum

Big Question?

Hello Friend,

Just a simple but big question:

How most people living in big crowded and unhealthful cities since long time, even bit older, can show normal test results?

Should their test reports not show impact from chronic unhealthful exposures?

Are they constantly and chronically corrected by body's defense mechanisms?

Best wishes.

via International Skeptics Forum

The end is near

OMG I have to do something, The wrong humans are coming. I demand a segregated reservation of us true whites because we are being oppressed.
The end is near and the sky is going to fall on our heads.

via International Skeptics Forum

lundi 7 août 2017

Heals organs with a single touch! TNT technology.

TNT technology (Tissue Nanotransfection)

"By using our novel nanochip technology, injured or compromised organs can be replaced. We have shown that skin is a fertile land where we can grow the elements of any organ that is declining,"

"This is difficult to imagine, but it is achievable, successfully working about 98 percent of the time. With this technology, we can convert skin cells into elements of any organ with just one touch. This process only takes less than a second and is non-invasive, and then you're off. The chip does not stay with you, and the reprogramming of the cell starts. Our technology keeps the cells in the body under immune surveillance, so immune suppression is not necessary,"

This just sounds like BS, but is legit. Published in Nature Nanotechnology.

"TNT technology has two major components: First is a nanotechnology-based chip designed to deliver cargo to adult cells in the live body. Second is the design of specific biological cargo for cell conversion. This cargo, when delivered using the chip, converts an adult cell from one type to another,"

"TNT doesn't require any laboratory-based procedures and may be implemented at the point of care. The procedure is also non-invasive. The cargo is delivered by zapping the device with a small electrical charge that's barely felt by the patient."

Badly injured mice were healed in 3 weeks with one touch of the chip.

What do you think?

via International Skeptics Forum

Atheists thought immoral, even by fellow atheists: study

via International Skeptics Forum

Under Trump USDA won't talk about "climate change" anymore...


Staff at the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) have been told to avoid using the term climate change in their work, with the officials instructed to reference “weather extremes” instead.

A series of emails obtained by the Guardian between staff at the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), a USDA unit that oversees farmers’ land conservation, show that the incoming Trump administration has had a stark impact on the language used by some federal employees around climate change

A missive from Bianca Moebius-Clune, director of soil health, lists terms that should be avoided by staff and those that should replace them. “Climate change” is in the “avoid” category, to be replaced by “weather extremes”. Instead of “climate change adaption”, staff are asked to use “resilience to weather extremes”.

The primary cause of human-driven climate change is also targeted, with the term “reduce greenhouse gases” blacklisted in favor of “build soil organic matter, increase nutrient use efficiency”. Meanwhile, “sequester carbon” is ruled out and replaced by “build soil organic matter”.

In her email to staff, dated 16 February this year, Moebius-Clune said the new language was given to her staff and suggests it be passed on. She writes that “we won’t change the modeling, just how we talk about it – there are a lot of benefits to putting carbon back in the sail [sic], climate mitigation is just one of them”, and that a colleague from USDA’s public affairs team gave advice to “tamp down on discretionary messaging right now”.

It's also nice to see that Trump has decided to nominate a climate change denying racist nutcase:


However, Sam Clovis, Trump’s nomination to be the USDA’s chief scientist, has labeled climate research “junk science”.

Last week it was revealed that Clovis, who is not a scientist, once ran a blog where he called progressives “race traders and race ‘traitors’” and likened Barack Obama to a “communist”.

via International Skeptics Forum

Google diversity memo

Please forgive me if there is already a thread on this topic; I couldn't find it.

Evidently a Google employee wrote up a lengthy memorandum about diversity in the workplace, from a somewhat contrarian standpoint:

I assume responses were calm and measured, presumably much thoughtful discussion ensued after the e-mail went viral.

via International Skeptics Forum

Tuning Problem -- Possible Divisions of 60

Let's say that it's possible to partition 60 tones into these numbers only, that is,
48,43,41,38,36,31|29,24,22,19,17, and 12.


How many possible ways are there to add up the possible numbers in 2, 3, 4 and 5-number groups?

This is all I can think of. Order doesn't matter.


[48,12]                [36,12,12]          [24,12,12,12]    [12,12,12,12,12]

[43,17]                [31,12,17]      [19,17,12,12]

[41,19]                [29,12,19]

eta: sorry, should be 14. fixed typo.

via International Skeptics Forum

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Tom Vanderbilt attempts rather well to demonstrate that, contrary to some received wisdom, there is accounting for taste. His book is an account for it. Moreover plenty of it is logical, or at least predictable, given a modest background in behavioural quirks that seem entertainingly daft, but which are mostly honed by evolutionary stuff. It's quite hard to get past the quadruple-decker ice cream cone on the front cover of the paperback, because there are no such pictures inside.

incidentally the reason why ice cream or chocolate dessert is demanded at the end of dinner: that's when the diner is fullest. Food has to work harder than other times to get intake. So morsels rich in sweet lovelies are what make the cut.

Taste--likes and dislikes--are best viewed as a cognitive means to manage sensory information overload. "Gut" feelings filter a world of endless choice. Not that people dislike choice. Actually they like the idea of it but not its employment so much. Your reviewer loves (mostly American) diners with a ten page breakfast menu but she will almost always seek out corned beef hash, if indulgence permits (she can't finish it though). And as Spotify's music catalogue increases incessantly like entropy does, a shadow website, Forgotify, has spent the last few years showing that a fifth of the content (4 million songs at last count) has never been listened to, ever.

We rarely decide to like things in a vacuum of course. Expectations matter hugely. Salmon flavour sorbet earns resounding thumbs-down, yet billed as savoury mouse, perhaps on toast, it's agreeable. Novels that have won prizes do sell better than unknowns, but suffer more dashed expectations as being not what their consumers hoped for. Expert reviews can influence taste too, but it's not easy to find, or even justify the existence of experts any more. In theory crowd-sourced cloud-powered cyberspace should have rendered them extinct by now, but haven't. Reason one why is that the web "crowd" is actually hardly any people (as a fraction of the real population). Reason two reviews are often meaninglessly positive, or bipolar, without the need of "fake news" input. Hardly anyone gives negative e-Bay feedback because of vulnerability to symmetric retaliation. Youtube felt compelled to introduce its thumbs down because the single option of a positive verdict quickly became meaningless. Furthermore for all the playing-field levelling that is supposed to have happened, trust issues in democratised criticism and internet-word-of-mouth have kind of rebounded such that reviewer heirarchy--expertise--being reintroduced by the back door ("top reviewer" and the like). By the way your reviewer has no credentials that might buttress her write up here. Unless you, erm, like some of her other reviews.

There is something called the exposure effect which can lead to taste being acquired. Few people like coffee or lager the first time but they strangely work at it, and their brain sweetens the pot. (Prosecco is another matter, doesn't need that). But over exposure can push that into reverse with some things, coffee and beer probably not included. People like songs more that they have heard often before, and memory tends to be a radio station that only plays what we want to hear, so music from your youth is somehow always better than the noise they put out today. And in general taste is evolutionarily adaptive: what didn't kill you last time is good for you this time, so says the human brain. And choosing what to eat once really was a life and death thing.

But tastes change, in an individual and via collective influence, also en-masse. It doesn't seem to make much biological sense that 1980s big hair was in then but out now. However birds have their version of such trends too, with birdsong having been recorded to drift from one thing to a quite different one over time. One decent explanation is that this is actually caused by random error and then mass imitation, both of which are happening all the time and so a neutral drift occurs which can't be put down to anything really except mistakes (eighties hair, yes). This is a bit like Darwinian / Galtonian evolution and eugenics, if a little less harsh. But it supplements survival of the fittest with a means to arrival of the fittest. It works with things as mundane as words: "throve" was not a regular verb that thrived for example.

Still this leaves much taste that probably can't be accounted for. Particularly because a thing can't often even be described, still less be given a justification of why you should like it: carrot experts (if there are any) have tremendous difficulty saying what one tastes like, besides carroty. So sometimes it may just be better to forget about this. More than a few winery owners from this reviewer's country of birth would tend to describe their product as "a bloody drink, so drink it", even as she remains convinced that Marlborough sauvignon blanc is the best wine there is, for lots of reasons. She will get back to you on what those are maybe.

via International Skeptics Forum

Is Trump ever going to have a major legislative accomplishment?

He might get some temporary tax cuts for the rich, but I think that will be about all.


via International Skeptics Forum

dimanche 6 août 2017

The Village Effect

It is sometimes assumed that in today's modern age it is far easier than before to spend a day not meeting anyone in person, or even speaking to anyone, without feeling lonely and without cutting oneself off, thanks to online connectivity. Indeed a case often made is that modern media have made things easier for chronically shy types, introverts or those with autism. Susan Pinker, a Canadian psychologist, disagrees with almost all of this. The internet is no substitute for face to face interaction and "meatspace" social bonds, she says, and where it does become substituted anyway it makes people unhappy, ill and less likely to live as long. In one of many references to "female effects", Ms Pinker argues that the longer life expectancy of women--(almost everywhere except in some "Blue Zones" such as a featured Sardinian mountain village chock-full of centenarians of either gender)--is due mostly to their greater proclivity to form close social ties (usually with other women).

The power of friendship bonds can be practical; many of those who died in Chicago's lethal 1995 heatwave simply didn't have anyone who thought to check up on them. Or they can be deeply mood-enhancing and bolster self-esteem; 101 year old Teresa Cabiddu attributes her age to her descendent family members who all live nearby, or with her, and love her. Epidemiologists have known that community cohesion is correlated with longevity for several decades. Religious communities often achieve demonstrable results along these dimensions, regardless of whether their deity exists or not. Inclusion is apparently something that people are hard-wired to seek out. Nobody is an excludovert.

Except that we don't have limitless capacity for interpersonal connections. Ms Pinker brings in Robin Dunbar's sociologically recurrent number, though this supposed upper limit on group size (150) is at least an order of magnitude higher than the number of real friends many quiet folks would max out at. But practically what this means is that creating and maintaining distance from outsiders is, actually, often as central to people's behaviour as is keeping proximity to insiders. Part of ensuring cohesion, in other words, resides in enforcing exclusion too. This was not just used by the rulers of Nazi Germany or South Africa's apartheid regime. Social ostracism, again practised more by females (to whittle down their group size, and perhaps to give it stronger social glue), is the downside counterpart of their better network building in the first place.

This is magnified in younger generations where online networks (typically affording friend pools in the thousands; many times larger than the Dunbar number) work to amplify the euphoria-trauma experience of upsize-downsize swings. And the round trip is negative according to all the research the author cites--the more time spent online interacting with more strangers, the lonelier people report to feeling. (And most virtual connections are, in aggregate, either with strangers or between people who probably would not spot each other passing in the street, even if they have met before). Ms Pinker doesn't believe that online networks are themselves creators of meanness, but they do allow it to propagate free of the checks and balances that limit it in face to face contexts. Something similar to what cars do to the cooperative temperament of their drivers. It's more of a jungle in there than out here.

Traditional heterosexual marriage can allow men to plug into the networks their wives have crafted, and benefit from those. Ms Pinker reports bullish statistics on marriage correlating with lifespan for both genders and including same sex couples, but it's bigger for women than men (except in very poor countries where childbirth/pregnancy is a far more lethal hazard). Living together is second best. Your reviewer learned that her situation (unmarried and living alone) was most hazardous--on the bright side this perhaps gives her more incentive to take up dangerous sports. Actually this is not entirely true--miserable unions are even worse.

Susan Pinker's advice is that we all need some strong real life social bonds, a spouse being not enough on their own anyway ("You're one person away from having nobody, immunology speaking you're almost naked"). And that nobody got better at doing this by spending more time online (she is convinced most get worse at it doing that). Precisely how much face time with how many depends on temperament, some people don't need much, others do. (Ms Pinker's claim to be introverted wasn't convincing against her admission that she would much rather dine with friends than alone when on a business trip, but hey). And how strong that face to face contact is would also appear to be fungible (Your reviewer works in a pretty quiet office and can shut her door if she wants to completely block out her colleagues, who like her are not famously talkative either. But she is often outside it at an open plan desk instead, and she has no desire to work remotely which she could do much of the time if she wished). "The Village Effect" is a useful balance to other texts that big up solitude, and the net. Even if it wasn't this reviewer's favourite book this year.

via International Skeptics Forum

Now trending: Russian "How to make a homunculus" videos

My son alerted me to these videos, which purport to show a method for creating an artificial lifeform by injecting a chicken's egg with human semen. After incubation, the eggs are cracked open and seemingly disgorge various bizarre creatures. The videos have been on YouTube since 2015 but are now undergoing a bit of viral spread.

Taking the obvious biological impossibilities as read, some of the "creatures" do exhibit realistic movements. Skeptics have created more-or-less convincing demo. videos of their own, using modeling clay and magnets to illustrate how the illusion might be performed.

The clay and magnet explanation is, however, less convincing in debunking some of the more elaborate "creatures". I strongly suspect that the creator of the original videos has been experimenting with organic props and puppets; basically - as my son pointed out - reinventing the Feejee Mermaid for the YouTube generation. A section of beef tongue makes a plausibly organic slug-like "body", especially when animated by concealed magnets; glue on some live, writhing maggots (yes, this is as revolting as it sounds) and the illusion is complete.

Copycat videos have also appeared, some featuring complete living animals such as shrimp emerging from the egg shells.

It's all very distasteful, but also an interesting example of hoaxer ingenuity.

via International Skeptics Forum